IN ORDER THAT OUR BOASTING ABOUT YOU IN THIS MATTER SHOULD
NOT PROVE HOLLOW: It seems that, whilst the Corinthians had spoken
enthusiastically about giving for the poor saints at Jerusalem, Paul was anxious
that the 'benefit' would not be available when required -- because they had not
been 'laying up' each 'first day of the week' (1Co 16:2).
WHOEVER SOWS GENEROUSLY WILL ALSO REAP GENEROUSLY:
"There is ample field for every liberal soul who may conceive liberal things in
the service of God. By liberal things he shall stand. There are not many to whom
liberality occurs in this direction. But the celestial phenomenon is not
absolutely unknown. Surprising, instances are permitted to break the monotony of
carnal stagnation, which even Paul lamented when he said, 'All seek their own
and not the things which are Jesus Christ's' [Phi 2:21]... A man seems a fool
who spends on God. Final developments will show a light on this subject that all
men will be able to see" (LM 237).
GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER: "Perhaps we have not
applied this admonition in any extended field, yet surely there is no reason why
we should not. It is a principle and applies on every plane. Sometimes we have
been guilty of rebellious gloominess in our work though not in the matter of
money. We would give to the collections as we are able and give cheerfully,
remembering the apostle's admonition. Then we might fail utterly on a more
important plane and never reflect that we were at fault. 'Plenty of letters this
morning and not a single one of any interest. All miserable requests for
lectures!' The rule should be, of course, to give such service as we are able
and to give cheerfully, just as in the matter of giving money.
"It is nearly always possible to give even though one should
be so bereft of strength and substance that work of any kind seems out of the
question. A brother who for many years has been bedridden and hardly able to
move a muscle has more than once sent forth a cheering and strengthening message
just when it was much needed. It is hardly possible that he can realize the
potency of such giving. It reproves the false feeling of faintness on the part
of those who are relatively strong. Such messages are a clarion call to all who
are really alive. Truly there are men, magnificent animals, who on the spiritual
plane need to be carried everywhere and there are human wrecks who help to do
"Ah, if only we could have an ecclesia with everyone intent on
giving, what a transformation it would make -- brethren neither pulling down
that which once they built nor supinely waiting to be fed; but all active, all
giving and anxious to serve. A little fasting and special prayer in such a
meeting might bring a direct message from Heaven as in the days of Daniel"
IN ALL THINGS AT ALL TIMES... YOU WILL ABOUND IN EVERY GOOD
WORK: "Surely there is nothing sadder or more tragic than individuals
claiming to be brethren and sisters of Christ who 'do not know what to do with
their time': who 'have nothing to do'. There is enough to do to fill a hundred
lifetimes, if people would open their eyes, and get their little minds off
themselves. No one does enough for others, in service and kindness and
remembrance. No one studies enough. No one writes enough letters. No one
preaches the Truth enough. True brethren and sisters of Christ will be
perpetually thankful for every precious moment with joyful usefulness in His
glorious service. Many worldly organizations are crying for volunteers to do
urgently needed humanitarian work. This is truly a waste of time for Christ's
brethren and sisters, who have a multitude of far higher and more eternally
useful things pressing to be done; but at least this fact is a standing
condemnation of any who do not fill their lives with some useful and helpful
activity. The empty-headed, infantile world more and more seeks baby-toys and
games and vacuous, spoon-fed Disney 'entertainment'. Let the children of wisdom
be far, far above this pitiful life-wasting folly! 'Always abound in the work of
the Lord.' The more we devote our lives to constructively and actively doing the
work of God, the less likely we are to sin. This is not a guarantee, for the
flesh is very deceptive, but it is a great help. The more we keep God in mind,
the more He will strengthen us against weakness and folly. We are much more
likely to sink into sin when our guard is down, and our minds are on present
things. Knowing this, we are responsible for our failures if we put ourselves in
the channel of failure" (GVG).
NOW HE... WILL ALSO SUPPLY AND INCREASE... AND WILL ENLARGE
THE HARVEST OF YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS: It is the spirit in which the 'bounty' is
given that matters, not the amount. God can bless what is given. In reality God
does not need our gifts to the work of the Truth. If we were not to respond to a
need He will 'make relief and deliverance arise from another place': see Est
The indescribable gift of God, by which He showed His
exceeding grace, involved His sowing bountifully, generously, and willingly...
above, far above, what He might have been expected to do.
I think this describes the Father's giving up of His Son, to a
cruel death... which was a loss and a sorrow that hurt Him deeply. This is what
Paul has in mind when, in Rom 8, he compares Abraham's offering of his precious
son Isaac (Gen 22) to God's offering of His Son Jesus: "He who did not spare his
own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things?" (Rom 8:32).
I think we are meant to see, here, an intense, ripping pain...
experienced by the Father, the Creator of all things, who was not compelled to
experience such pain -- because, in a sense, it was self-inflicted, and He could
have stopped it -- but He chose not to stop it. This was not an "academic"
exercise; it was not a "clinical" experiment. The agony that the Father felt was
like the sun growing dark, and the earth quaking... and these things literally
happened when Jesus died... so that we can begin to feel what the Father must
But, we think to ourselves: THIS is Omnipotence. Surely HE is
beyond the intensity of sorrow that we can feel at the loss of a loved one, too
young and too soon! Or... surely it couldn't have hurt HIM that badly... because
He knew that it could all be remedied, and that it WOULD all be remedied, very
shortly. Surely it wasn't REALLY that bad, for HIM!
Yet we must ask ourselves as well: What is there about US,
that we can feel so intensely... a hurt, a personal loss, a tragedy, an ongoing
sorrow? Isn't it, perhaps, that we are made in HIS image? And, just as our minds
are so far above those of other "beasts", and our capacity to understand matters
outside of ourselves, and beyond the constraints of time and place, must far
exceed that of His other "creatures"... isn't that because we are made in HIS
image? So, in our sorrow too, which can burn like a physical pain, and leave an
ache that no medication can cure, in that too we must be in HIS image. And if
HIs abilities and capacities so far exceed ours, as Omnipotence does weakness,
and Eternity does a short span of years... then... how much more suffering must
HE have been capable of experiencing, when HE witnessed His Son at the trial,
and the smiting, and the flogging, and the cross?
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for
which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us -- yes, the
many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his
compassion and many kindnesses. He said, 'Surely they are my people, sons who
will not be false to me'; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress
he too was distressed ['In all their affliction He was afflicted': KJV], and the
angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he
lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and
grieved his Holy Spirit" (Isa 63:7-10).
We are reminded of David, who -- given the opportunity to
offer to God a special offering provided by someone else -- refused, saying:
"No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God
burnt offerings that cost me nothing" (2Sa 24:24). That, we see, is the essence
of sacrifice: to give up willingly something of value, something the loss of
which will hurt. He who has a religion that costs him nothing, has a religion
that is worth nothing. And, in that light, we look at the sacrifice which the
Father offered in His Son, because it was HIS sacrifice as well as His Son's,
and we must try to fathom what that offering must have cost Him! Surely it is
beyond our abilities to put a price tag on such a sacrifice.
That is why God's gift of grace in His Son is called by Paul
"indescribable", because the Father Himself "sowed bountifully" the "seed" of
His Son. He gave up on our behalf that precious "Seed", which cost Him
immeasurably; and He drew a veil, as it were, over the pain and hurt He felt...
but we may get a sense of the intensity of His emotions when we see the sun grow
dark, or we feel the earth tremble under our feet.
He did this because He loves us! And He had to do it because
we have sinned against Him! And because it was the way, the only way, that He
could hope to bring us back to Him. Perverse and foolish, like silly sheep, we
wander here and there, and lose sight of the Eternal Shepherd. But He seeks us
out, and lovingly calls us, and reminds us again -- pointing to the cross -- of
the price HE paid for our redemption. And He reminds us that HE, the Father, is
still waiting and watching for us to find our weary way, beaten and broken by
the world's vain pursuits, back to HIM. The One who spared not His own Son
stands ready to welcome us with open arms.
"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
"Speak to us, LORD, till, shamed by Thy great
Our hands unclasp to set our treasures free;
Our wills, our love, our dear ones, our possessions
All gladly yielded, gracious LORD, to Thee."